August 4, 2014

Sharing Is Caring

Yeah, but it's our cup, we invented it, hands off!

It's a touch embarrassing when we go and create a tournament at our own place, but can't win it. The last time we managed to lift the prestigious Emirates Cup was back in 2010, since then the NY Red Bulls, Galatasaray and now Valencia have all got their dirty mitts on it. This is where we tell ourselves it's only a friendly, because then it doesn't matter so much. Next time, however, I suggest that we invite clubs such as Farnborough, Aldershot Town and maybe Hibernian just to offer that exotic foreign aspect. I'm pretty sure we'd have a good chance in that one.

Obviously I think we all enjoyed the Benfica game a lot more, and it seemed the players did too. Clearly there are some fitness issues within the squad, but it's all to be expected. I did hope for a bit more 'oomf' though, if you know what I mean. It all seemed a bit laboured and lackadaisical. 

A couple of interesting performances from this mini tournament came from the following;

Yaya Sanogo - His first goal for Arsenal and he gets 4, not too shabby. I think he surprised us all a bit, but of course this could just be a one off. I doubt it though, he's always getting in good positions, finding space, and maybe he's found his finishing to go along with it. I'm excited to find out, and I hope he gets some appearances this season. Most will obviously be form the bench, but I think we'll see more of him in the domestic cups and perhaps the early stages of the Champions League.

Joel Campbell - The boss says he wants to keep him and that there's no reason to let him go, so that probably means we'll loan him out to Turkey on a season long loan next week. 
I do think he's got a chance in the Arsenal squad though, but he's got to be prepared to sit on the bench a bit. Looks like a strong lad though, so should adapt to the English game quite well. 

Calum Chambers - Solid. I didn't see the kid make a single error. There was a moment in the first half against Monaco where he let the ball go and it fell to a Monaco player 10 yards out, but other than that he oozed confidence and looked legit. His physique reminds me of a (slight smaller) Tony Adams, he's definitely got that English center-back look about him, even if the manager does fancy him in every single position on the field.

Ignasi Miquel - I've always liked the young Spaniard, but not sure if the boss does. Hopefully his successful spell at Leicester last season went a way to putting him on Wenger's radar. He'd be a nice back-up for domestic cups.

Hector Bellarin - This kid looked like he was fighting for a place, and I think that's exactly the case. The most obvious back up to Debuchy at right back is Chambers, but if the young Englishman does float around to different positions I'd feel quite comfortable with giving Bellarin a chance to shine against some decent competition. Good attacking mind, and with a few more pies in him he should be able to stand up for himself in England. 

Aaron Ramsey - The Welsh Jesus has picked up right where he left off last season. He may have dwelled on the ball a bit against Monaco instead of playing the easy passes, but that was his criticism a year or two ago and he fixed that in a hurry. I'm confident that with the talent around him he will become one of our most important players again this season.

Alexis Sanchez - The terrior. He simply did not give up in the Monaco game. His movement was great, and as the boss said, he looked sharp, and when he did give the ball away, whether it was his fault or the recipients fault, he chased down every single ball. More of that please. 
It is worth noting that he looked far more creative and dangerous when deployed in the central position, but whether that will be his regular position is up to the manager.

Mathieu Debuchy - Didn't have a ton to do in the Monaco game, but everything he did, he did with efficiency. In my opinion, the perfect replacement for Sagna, and having already played a year in England I'm sure there will be little or no adapting.

Kieren Gibbs - Gibbsy. I am chuffed that he got his number 3 shirt, and so glad that he's repaying the manager's faith in him over the last few seasons. He might not be the greatest left back in the league, but he ticks all the boxes for me. Even with his complete lack of anything that resembles a right foot, he's still my Gunner.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - He got a couple of games at the end of last season, and he always seems to light up the pitch when he plays. He is one of the few players on the team willing (and able) to take on players one-on-one. He's got the speed, he looks like he's got the confidence so if he can stay fit this could he his year. He deserves it. I was also debating with a friend whether we'd rather see him start over Cazorla. Based on pre season I'd be quite comfortable with The Ox, but squad depth and rotation is the name of the game this season.

While there were many other good performances, there were also a few performances that worried me slightly, even if this is pre season. Giroud is way off the pace, but hopefully that's something that will remedy itself in training. Jack Wilshere, even after playing some nice one-two passes throughout all his pre season games, still doesn't look to me like the prodigy we were all promised. I don't want to criticise the guy too much but this is definitely going to be his defining season as an Arsenal player (and an England player too, perhaps).

The young Akpom looked ok and got himself into a few good positions, not only in the Emirates Cup but in New York too. He's got some peddles on him, but I don't see him featuring too much with Campbell and Sanogo ahead of him. 

Lastly, can we please sign another center back so we don't have to watch Monreal destroy himself in the middle of defense. It's not his position, and it seems to just be damaging his confidence playing him there game after game. I know we were missing Koscienly and are waiting for the return of the BFG, but no more, please. It's painful to watch.
The departure of Vermaelen looks imminent, so no doubt we'll be seeing some movement in that position anyway. 

Overall, not too shabby. I'm excited about this season, just as I get excited about every season, but this time it's different. It's different because we've done some early business in the transfer market, instantly adding depth to almost every position, so there's very little to complain about right now. Let's get through the Community Shield, let's qualify for the Champions League group stages and then re asses. For now, let the games begin!